Simulation suggests long-term effect on sea level not as dire as some predictions
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The increasing pace of ice breaking off Greenland’s glaciers and dumping into the ocean may not actually be a warning sign of runaway ice loss and catastrophic sea level rise, researchers report in the May 9 Nature.
Greenland’s ice sheet raises sea level when the surface melts or when glaciers flow into the sea and discharge icebergs. Scientists have been concerned that the last decade’s acceleration in iceberg calving would continue unchecked. Simulations have been unable to verify or refute those fears because it’s difficult to account for all of the processes, such as warm seawater’s melting of a glacier’s base, that influence how the streams of ice move and shed icebergs.
Now, Faezeh Nick of the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium and colleagues have incorporated all of these variables into a simulation that predicts the activity of four of Greenland’s main